Today, we’ll be reviewing the best headphones for mixing and mastering in 2023.
You know, the market is so over saturated with headphones, new and old, all of which come with their very own pitch of why they’re God’s gift to audio.
To help you through this never-ending swamp of corporate doublespeak and relentless persuasion, we here at Higher Hz have taken it upon ourselves to write up a definitive list.
We hope to shed some light on the situation for you, so you can find a pair that works best for you.
These are the best headphones for mixing and mastering:
- Shure SRH1840
- AKG K371
- Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro
- Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
- Sennheiser HD 600
- Sony MDR-7506
- AKG K712 Pro
The clear winner
For those of you who are familiar with Shure (the corporation responsible for some of the most iconic and well-known microphones in the history of audio), it should come as no surprise that the SRH1840 are, simply put, headphones par excellence.
They’re easy to drive, neutral in their response, yet never come across as boring or sterile in their reproduction. What’s more is that they’re lightweight, comfortable, and durable.
We understand that some of you may be wary of these considering they’re nearly $500, but trust us when we say they’re hands down some of the best studio headphones for mixing and mastering.
The best closed-back headphones
In regards to closed-back headphones, the AKG K371s blow nearly every competitor out of the water for their price range.
Their frequency response (5 Hz – 40 kHz), while still suffering from a slight V-shape, is far more neutral than, say, Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50x.
Yes, you’ll still get a bit of exaggeration in the lowest of lows and highest of highs, but considering these were designed to be low-budget, the slight inconsistencies ought to be given a pass.
The same can be said for their less than ideal build and comfortability, which is a small price to pay for their convenience.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro
Popular for a reason
While Beyerdynamic has a reputation for sounding a bit too clinical and overbearing on the high end, it doesn’t make the DT 880 Pros any less viable as a pair of cans.
Their sound signature is incredibly bright, but this can help highlight sibilance issues and other blemishes in a mix. This can work wonders for your mixes if you take the time to warm up to their character.
The main takeaway here is that these headphones are popular for a reason. They sound great, they’re well built, and they’re supremely comfortable.
If you like a bright sound signature, this one is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t, they make a great pair of reference headphones.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
A phenomenal budget option
Another bright sounding set of headphones from Beyerdynamic, perfect. The DT 770 Pros are like the little sibling of the DT 800 Pro – not quite as good but roughly the same.
That aforementioned V-shape in the frequency response is a bit more drastic, but not so much that it will ruin your listening experience. The accuracy of the midrange is what really makes these headphones stand out among a crowd.
Just as the DT 800s and 990s, however, these headphones are built to last and are incredibly comfortable. If you wanted the DT 800s but couldn’t afford, these are almost half the price at $150.
Overall, these are probably the best closed-back headphones you can find for mixing.
Sennheiser HD 600
A solid choice
The Sennheiser HD 600s are a solid choice for any engineer, regardless of experience. They’re rather bright, and risk being too hyped up in the high end but are fairly accurate overall.
The brightness can work to your advantage too, especially if you’re in need of some headphones for critical listening.
Keep in mind that these are open-back mixing headphones, so if you want a set of cans to bring with you on your commute, look elsewhere.
The affordable industry standard
The Sony MDR-7506s are a divisive choice. Many refer to them as the gold standard of mixing headphones, others disregard them as trash and move on – but our opinion lies somewhere in between.
It’s important to recognize that these headphones were originally designed to weed out inconsistencies and issues found in voice broadcast engineering, way back when radio was at its peak.
So, while they’ve certainly stood the test of time, they’re not perfect to mix with. They are indestructible, however, and stupidly cheap.
If you’re interested in having a set of industry standard cans, these are probably the easiest to get a hold of.
AKG K712 Pro
These headphones are an underrated choice but are nonetheless some of the best mastering headphones you can find. The price is a bit higher than most of what’s on this list but is completely worth it.
The soundstage on these cans is absolutely massive. Elements of your mix you once perceived as being closer will sound much farther away, all while retaining their clarity and detail. The highs are smooth and the bass is present without being overbearing.
However, the sound signature might take some getting used to, so we recommend you try them out before buying to make sure they’re right for you.
While this may not be a complete list, we hope that we’ve provided enough information for you to make your own informed decision.
Remember that the only important thing, the only thing that really matters, is that you’re happy with your investment (and that it helps you make better music). Everything else is a farce.
Godspeed and happy buying!